Archive for November, 2009

UPDATE II: Richardson’s ex-wife: Speaker’s suicide attempt aimed at controlling her

The former wife of House Speaker Glenn Richardson told an Atlanta television station on Monday that her ex-husband’s attempted suicide was less about taking his own life than it was gaining control over her.

“I don’t think it was because he was depressed. I think it was power and control that motivated him to do this,” Susan Richardson told the station, according to a video of the interview posted on the station’s Web site.

Susan Richardson’s revelations prompted the leader of the House Democrats on Tuesday to say it’s time for the public to know the truth.

Update 12:18 p.m. The leader of the majority Republican caucus meanwhile, declined to comment about Susan Richardson’s statements. House Majority Leader Jerry Keen (R-St. Simons Island) said he has not had a chance to talk to the speaker or “look at everything that has been said.”

But when asked if Richardson should resign as speaker, Keen said, “What I think would be fair is to let me get back over there and sit down with …

Continue reading UPDATE II: Richardson’s ex-wife: Speaker’s suicide attempt aimed at controlling her »

Bill takes aim at lottery bonuses

A top state senator has pre-filed a bill that would force lottery officials to get legislative approval before they hand out bonuses to staffers.

The bill from Senate Majority Whip Mitch Seabaugh (R-Sharpsburg) would dissolve the current Georgia Lottery Corp. board and create a new one appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the House of Representatives. Currently the governor alone appoints the board.

The measure would also force the lottery president to get the board’s and a legislative panel’s approval before giving out bonuses.

Seabaugh prefiled the bill for the upcoming 2010 legislative session after the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the Georgia Lottery Corp. gave out $2.7 million in bonuses this year, up 8 percent from last year.

Lottery CEO Margaret DeFrancisco received a $204,034 bonus, up from $150,000 in 2008. That’s on top of a $286,000 salary, which was unchanged from 2008.

Lottery officials say the bonuses  are commonly used in …

Continue reading Bill takes aim at lottery bonuses »

Adelman nominated ambassador to Singapore

State Sen. David Adelman (D-Atlanta) has been nominated by President Barack Obama to be U.S. ambassador to Singapore, the White House announced late Thursday.

Adelman, a member of Georgia’s state Senate since 2002 served as a member of Obama’s national finance campaign during the 2008 campaign. His wife, Caroline, served on the advance team  for Obama’s Georgia primary campaign and spokeswoman for the general election here.

Adelman is a partner at the Atlanta law firm of Sutherland Asbill and Brennan and is a graduate of the University of Georgia, Georgia State and the Emory University School of Law.

Continue reading Adelman nominated ambassador to Singapore »

Thurbert Baker hospitalized following gall bladder surgery

Attorney General Thurbert Baker is in St. Joseph’s Hospital of Atlanta recuperating from surgery to remove his gall bladder.

Baker, a 2010 Democratic candidate for governor, under went the procedure Tuesday evening, his campaign spokesman Jeff DiSantis said Wednesday.

“Attorney General Baker is expected to return to his normal work schedule after the Thanksgiving holiday,” DiSantis said.

Baker is expected to remain at St. Joseph’s for another day or two.

Continue reading Thurbert Baker hospitalized following gall bladder surgery »

House panel wants to legalize betting on horse races

A bipartisan panel of state lawmakers on Wednesday backed a plan to legalize betting on horse racing in Georgia.

Rep. Harry Geisinger (R-Roswell), the chairman of the Special Equine Study Committee, said at the panel’s meeting that they would propose a public referendum to legalize a new form of gambling in the state.

The appetite in the state for pari-mutuel gambling is unknown, but this not the first time the idea has come up. Proposals to amend the constitution to allow pari-mutuel betting are introduced every few years, most recently in 2005. None have found the backing necessary to reach voters.

But with lawmakers having already cut more than $3 billion from what is now an $18.5 billion state budget, and an additional $300 million in cuts on the horizon, a new form of revenue that does not include tax increases could be attractive. It’s important to note, too, that three of the four members of Geisinger’s committee who attended Wednesday’s hearing are Republicans, while …

Continue reading House panel wants to legalize betting on horse races »

911 tapes show Richardson took sleeping pills, said it was ‘too late’

House Speaker Glenn Richardson called his parents in Douglas County last Sunday and told them he had taken sleeping pills and that it “was too late to do anything,” according to the 911 recording of the call.

Richardson’s mother, Merty, called 911 on Nov. 8 and said her son was conscious and breathing but said he purposely took the pills. According to a police report issued late Monday, Richardson was found in his bathroom with a “silver revolver sitting on the counter in front of him.” Richardson was semi-conscious and did not respond to verbal commands.

There was also a suicide note on yellow paper and another note “related to the suicide,” although details were not included in the report released by the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office.

Richardson issued a news release late Friday in which he acknowledged he had tried to kill himself. He said he  has suffered from depression for more than two years since becoming estranged and then divorced from his wife, Susan, was …

Continue reading 911 tapes show Richardson took sleeping pills, said it was ‘too late’ »

Speaker Richardson admits attempt to take own life

Georgia House Speaker Glenn Richardson (R-Hiram)

Georgia House Speaker Glenn Richardson (R-Hiram)

Georgia House Speaker Glenn Richardson (R-Hiram) suffers from depression and recently tried to take his own life.

Richardson, in a statement to the media, said Friday that he has been suffering from depression for the past 2 1/2 years since the separation from his wife and subsequent divorce.

“While depression often seems to be resolved on occasion, when personal trials or tribulations arise, it flares back up,” Richardson said in the statement. “That is what occurred with me. My depression became so severe that I took substantial steps to do harm to myself and to take my own life. I am thankful that because of medical intervention I have instead been able to now receive help and support.”

Richardson said he regularly sees a physician and takes prescription medications for his condition.

No details regarding the suicide attempt were provided, and Richardson’s spokesman declined to make further comment. WSB-TV reported at 6 p.m. …

Continue reading Speaker Richardson admits attempt to take own life »

Perdue visits troops in Iraq

Gov. Sonny Perdue on Tuesday visited Georgia National Guard units fighting in Iraq.

While in Baghdad’s Green Zone, Perdue spoke by telephone with reporters in Georgia about his trip.

“All in all the spirit and morale of our troops is palpable,” Perdue said. “They feel there is light at the end of the tunnel and they feel like they’ve made a difference. I feel like they have, too.”

It is the second time Perdue has visited Georgia National Guard troops in the war zone. During a six-day swing through the Middle East and Afghanistan in 2005, he helped serve Thanksgiving dinner to members of Georgia’s 48th Brigade in Baghdad.

The Department of Defense regularly organizes small groups of governors to visit Iraq and Afghanistan to meet with officials from those countries and to greet troops for their home states.

Perdue traveled this week with the governors of Mississippi, Oregon and Wyoming. All,  he said, met with U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill and Gen. Raymond Odierno, the top …

Continue reading Perdue visits troops in Iraq »

State revenues continue free fall

Georgia’s revenue collections fell another 18 percent in October, compared to the same month a year ago, as the state’s three main sources of tax income continued to collapse.

This marks the 11th consecutive month of declining revenues. Here is a look at the figures released Monday and how they compare to previous months and years.

Individual income tax collections

October 2009: $610.57 million

October 2008: $722.50 million

Difference: -15.5 percent

Corporate income tax collections

October 2009: $-4.9 million

October 2008: $23.55 million

Difference: -120.8 percent

Sales and use tax collections

October 2009: $397.96 million

October 2008: $486.74 million

Difference: -18.2 percent

Fiscal year to date (July 1-Oct. 31)

Overall tax collections: $4.65 billion

Same period a year ago: $5.49 billion

Difference: -14.8 percent

For instant updates, follow us on Twitter.

Continue reading State revenues continue free fall »

Updated: State to ban tobacco use in prisons

The state Department of Corrections will ban all tobacco use at its 37 facilities by the end of next year, becoming the 11th state to implement a total withdrawal of smoking at its prisons.

Corrections Commissioner Brian Owens told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday that the agency will begin a phase-out of tobacco use beginning Jan. 1.

“It’s 2010 in a few days and it’s time to do the right thing,” Owens said.

Corrections’ decision follows a similar one announced this week by the Department of Mental Health. But Mental Health has said it will implement a total smoking ban in all seven state mental hospitals on Jan. 5. The Department of Corrections is taking a staggered approach, Owens said.

Beginning Jan. 1, smoking and tobacco use will be banned at two diagnostic facilities where inmates are evaluated after being transferred from county jails. Then, on July 1, 2010, the Augusta State Medical Prison — where the system’s sickest inmates are housed — will go tobacco …

Continue reading Updated: State to ban tobacco use in prisons »